Posted on March 7th, 2011
Cirrus Aircraft president and CEO Brent Wouters announced yesterday morning that China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (Caiga) has signed an agreement to purchase 100 percent of Cirrus Aircraft from the several hundred shareholders that own the Duluth, Minn.-based light aircraft manufacturer. Sellers include private-equity firm Arcapita, which owns 60 percent of Cirrus, and minority shareholders (including former Cirrus chairman and co-founder Alan Klapmeier). Caiga, based in Zhuhai, is a division of China’s Avic International, which recently announced plans to buy piston-engine manufacturer Teledyne Continental Motors (also provider of Cirrus engines). Caiga also owns rights to develop Epic single-engine turboprops outside the U.S. After the Cirrus purchase takes place in about six months, pending government approvals, Wouters said, “Jobs and job growth are staying right here. The critics will say jobs are moving to China. That’s not happening. What is happening is–and you have my word that that’s the case–this is an investment in Cirrus as we know it today. Our production will stay here, our growth will stay here, new product development will be here and incremental volume will be produced out of these factories.” Wouters said that Caiga’s investment “will expedite product development,” and that includes the Vision single-engine jet program, which is currently in the detail design phase. Although former Epic CEO Rick Schramek showed up at Cirrus during a Caiga visit, “he is not associated with Caiga or Cirrus,” according to Wouters.